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SD'S BEST POKE

Harney Sushi and Terra American Bistro


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After a certain size, food parties fail. Lines for grub look like a Bieber kissing booth in Communist Russia. Cocktails go endangered. Plates pile on tables like some awful trash sculpture L.A. would enjoy. That’s why the fourth annual I Love Poke Festival—run by longtime San Diegan Nino Camilo—was such a successful night. Held Wednesday at the indoor-outdoor tiki bowl that is Bali Hai, the sold-out event’s 850-plus attendees all seemed to fit. Food stations were manageable. The huge crowd of Hawaiian ex-pats, chefs and surf-skate culture drank mai tais for a 70-degree sunset.

There were tiki torches, hair-flowers, unspoken stranger love. I’d rather clip my toenails with a chainsaw than listen to reggae, and yet even the Hawaiian-reggae band Kimie and Irie Love sounded soulful and fantastic. The whole scene was just right. But enough of that. Fifteen restaurants competed for the title of best poke in town.

On personal taste test, I had Kitchen 4140, Harney Sushi and Terra American Bistro neck-and-neck for the win. And the panel of judges that included a pro surfer (Joel Tudor), skater (Christian Hosoi), publishing magnate (TransWorld editor Chris Cote) and UT food writer Keli Dailey agreed on Harney in a tie with Terra American Bistro.

Here are San Diego's two best pokes, according to the strictly scientific process of guest judges. I suggest you storm into their places of business and demand they recreate the experience. Maybe even hire a pro surfer to stand nearby and be ogled.

Tickets are still left for the Huntington Beach version of the festival on June 5.

FIRST PLACE (TIE)

Harney Sushi | Ian Kadane and Mike Jasmine
Marcona encrusted yellowfin tuna. Jalapeño cilantro sauce, ogo sea weed from Carlsbad Aquafarms, topped with coconut cream and a calamansi vinaigrette

Terra American Bistro | Chef Jeff Rossman
Fried salmon skin, hamachi, pickled calamari, wakame, togarashi

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The hottest thing in San Diego food right now just might be Tijuana.

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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